The Federal Communications Commission is approaching a critical juncture in its congressionally mandated task of devising national policy to further advanced (broadband) telecommunications infrastructure build out. The issue facing the FCC is to what extent the nation emulate the open access network regulatory model used by other countries that have leaped past and made the U.S. and its proprietary, closed networks an also ran rather than a leader in deploying advanced, Internet protocol-based telecommunications.
The FCC commissioned a report suggesting that regulatory policy in the form of the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act requiring telcos to unbundle their networks and allow providers of voice and Internet services to lease space on them had it right and that model needs to be embraced again. Here's a good summary of the study by Internetnews.com.
Look for the FCC will lean strongly toward open access in developing its plan due to Congress next February. The Obama administration stipulated that subsidies set aside for broadband infrastructure construction in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 be for open access networks. That sends a strong signal to the FCC where it stands on open access.
The incumbent duopoly telco and cable companies will protest open access will discourage them from investing in building out their proprietary networks. It's a non sequitur. They're already discouraged from doing so by the economics of their business models. Those models simply don't allow them to make the big investments in their network infrastructure necessary to allow the United States to catch up and bring its outdated telecommunications networks -- particularly over the last mile -- to where they need to be.
This isn't economic rocket science. The average consumer who has asked his or her local telco or cable company for years why the folks a couple miles away -- and often closer -- have broadband and they don't already knows this. They've been repeatedly told by customer service and field personnel -- when these personnel are being frank and direct -- that their neighborhoods simply cost too much to serve and they're SOL for the foreseeable.